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  1. 1. Thursday, June 26, 2014 Page 3The Chronicle-News Trinidad, Colorado TheGreatOutdoorsENTERTAINMENT Pueblo’s Bands in the Backyard thrills thousands of fans By Adam Sperandio Correspondent The Chronicle-News Last weekend I experienced the first mu- sic festival outside of the Trinidaddio Blues FestthatIhaveeverattended.Mygirlfriend, two friends and I went to the huge, two-day Bands in the Backyard event in Pueblo, and it was an excellent way to spend a summer weekend! Though I’ve seen numerous concerts, I had never attended a multi-day music event. Featuring major country-music art- ists such as Jake Owen, Thomas Rhett and Uncle Kracker, the Bands in the Backyard music festival proved in its second year of existence to be a major musical attraction for music fans throughout Colorado and from areas farther away. I forked out $180 for two general-admis- sion tickets for the concert that appeared actually to be taking place in somebody’s backyard. The festival also had VIP packag- es that included camping, but we felt that we all got our money’s worth, since the event featured nine different acts. We showed up Friday evening fashion- ably late when the band Blackjack Billy was halfway through its set. Although I enjoyed the band’s performance, I was there for two reasons that night: The Casey Donahew Band and Uncle Kracker. I love Texas Coun- try Music, and Casey Donahew is the defi- nition of Texas Country Music. The band played for more than an hour, serenading us with hits like “Stockyard,” “Back Home in Texas” and “White Trash Story.” As Do- nahew and company worked their magic on stage, the crowd filled the backyard. Many of the music fans brought lawn chairs, and I wish I’d thought to bring some for us, since sitting on the ground got old quickly. By the time Uncle Kracker came on, more than 10,000 fans were in attendance, ready to rock into the night. Kracker’s set included fan favorites such as “Follow Me,” “Drift Away” and “Smile.” He also played some selections from his new album, titled “Midnight Special.” Saturday drew triple-digit temperatures and a crowd of approximately 15,000 people, all of them looking to be entertained by some of the biggest stars in country music today, namely Chase Rice, Thomas Rhett and Jake Owen. Thesizeofthecrowdwassurrealandwill be something that I will remember just as much as the performers. The three headlin- ers certainly delivered the goods, with each of them playing to the capacity crowd for more than an hour. The energy the crowd fed to the guys on stage and vice versa made the evening’s music experience amazing. I was thoroughly impressed by Tony Martinez, a performer who came on be- tween Rhett and Owen. Owen discovered Martinez in a bar a couple of years ago in Arizona, and the two musicians have been on tour together ever since. When Martinez riffed on his guitar and sang with a voice that reminded me of Hank Williams Jr.’s, the crowd erupted. Martinez later came up on stage in Owen’s set, and the two brought the house down with the Jerry Reed classic “Amos Moses.” So impressed was I by his performance, that I am confident that Tony Martinez will soon be a household name. Throughout the two-days of listening to excellent music and enjoying the company of thousands of like-minded music fans, I kept thinking how cool it would be to have an event like Bands in the Backyard in Trinidad again. We have the most beautiful backyard in America. It’s time we start us- ing it in a manner that will benefit so many Trinidad residents. Will Trinidaddio once again fill the night with blues notes that echo off of Fisher’s Peak? Adam Sperandio / The Chronicle-News Clockwise from above, country-music recording artist Blackjack Billy opens the Bands in the Backyard Music Festival on Friday. Country-music recording artist Thomas Rhett preforms his hit song, “Beer with Jesus” to a capacity crowd on Saturday. Rhett, who is one of country music’s up-and-coming stars, played several songs from his debut album, titled “Something to Do with My Hands.” Country-music star Jake Owen preforms in front of a capacity crowd at the Bands in the Backyard show on Saturday, June 21 in Pueblo. Owen, who was the final act of the festival, preformed several top hits, including: “Eight Second Ride,” “Tall Glass of Something” and “Any- where with You.” Photo courtesy of Krista Cordova Photo courtesy of Krista Cordova HEALTH & WELLNESS Pushing back against high-priced medicines By Trudy Lieberman Rural Health News Service Many Americans have begun to real- ize they’re paying too much for prescrip- tion drugs. And maybe, just maybe, a national conversation on the topic has be- gun, sparked by the introduction last year of Sovaldi, touted as the most effective way to treat patients with hepatitis C. The problem is Soval- di’s hefty price tag — $84,000 for a three-month regimen —and the fact that insurers have begun factoring the price they are paying for the drug into the premiums all of us will pay for health insurance in the next few years. UnitedHealth Group announced it had already paid $100 million to cover Sovaldi for its policyholders in the first three months of this year. To get an idea how Sovaldi could crowd out spending for other health care needs, let’s look at Oregon. One of the state’s Medicaid man- aged-care organizations noted that if 30 per- cent, or 814 members out of a total of 2,466 with hepatitis C, received the drug, the cost would be about $68 million. Compare this to the $72 million the health plan spent for all its pharmaceuticals last year, and you get the point. I have written about Sovaldi before in a “Thinking About Health” column. Since then a Washington-based group called the National Coalition on Health Care, which counts insurers, employers, unions, provid- ers and faith-based organizations among its members, has launched the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing. CEO John Rother says it’s an effort to discuss possible solu- tions for rapidly escalating drug prices. Rother, who is the former chief lobbyist for AARP and who helped pass the Medicare prescription-drug law a decade ago, knows a thing or two about drugs. Hetoldmethatsincethedruglawpassed, price increases have been held in check largely because of the greater use of generic substitutes. Not so any more with the debut of Sovaldi, however, and with some 200 spe- cialty drugs in the pipeline, which may be priced as high as Sovaldi. The country, he says, is headed down an unsustainable path when it comes to paying for medicines. As a country we’ve rarely asked whether paying for these su- per high-priced drugs means we may have to forego other health- care services. Insur- ers, employers, Medi- care and Medicaid have rarely blinked. They’ve just paid the bills. Nor have payers always carefully scru- tinized the evidence that a new expensive medicine actually did what the drug maker claimed it would do. They paid even when there was little evidence a drug was effec- tive. This time it’s different. The California Technology Assessment Forum, a private group funded by insurers, has recommended that Sovaldi be used only for the sickest patients. In Oregon, the Cen- ter for Evidence-Based Policy established by the governor a decade ago and based at the Oregon Health & Science University has said there have been no long-term tri- als, and many of those trials that have taken place were laced with conflicts of interest. It recommends more comparative studies and restricting use of the drug for now. The U.S. has no official oversight agency like the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the U.K., which evaluates new drugs and technologies and makes recommendations to the National Health Service. NICE will complete its re- view in the fall. Meanwhile, the British health service is paying the equivalent of $32 million to treat 500 of the sickest pa- tients. There’s zero chance the U.S. will adopt a NICE-like organization any time soon. The Affordable Care Act prohibits the Pa- tient-Centered Outcomes Research Insti- tute, created by the ACA, from considering costs when it evaluates the effectiveness of various treatments. And Medicare is not al- lowed to consider cost in deciding whether to cover a drug or a device. The govern- ment’s hands are tied. Rother’s group will have to figure out a way to evaluate cost and effectiveness with- in the health system’s political boundaries. That won’t be easy, and the drug industry is pushing back. Drug makers want the gov- ernment to make insurers absorb the extra cost rather than passing them along to pa- tients in the form of higher copays and coin- surance for those who need the drug. That’s not really a solution, Rother says. “High-cost drugs raise premiums and threaten funding for important health ser- vices. Ultimately the individual pays the costs one way or another. The fundamental problem is the unnecessary high prices of some drugs, not which pocket the consumer uses to pay for them.” Photo courtesy of Greg Boyce Workers from Byerly and Coslyeon of Pueblo work on a new sidewalk outside O’Connor Hall at Trinidad State Junior College. Work scheduled for this summer at the college includes new dis- abled parking spaces and sidewalk ramps at a cost of $107,000.